In April of 2013, the city was hit by a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. Soon afterward, Red Sox legend David Ortiz would become a beacon of hope.
It’s impossible to talk about the 2013 season without bringing up the horrible tragedy that occurred on April 15th. It was the day of the Boston Marathon which is also known as Patriots’ Day, in remembrance of the battles of Lexington and Concord. The day is also signified with an early morning (11:05) Red Sox game to get the city going.
That year’s game lasted just a hair over three hours which allowed it to finish prior to the events that would soon change the city. At 2:49 PM, two bombs would detonate near the finish line of the Marathon injuring hundreds and killing three. A manhunt would soon begin to find the culprits that unleashed such a heinous attack on the city.
The men that committed the crimes were found a few weeks later and Boston was able to let out a sigh of relief, even if it was a small one. Something else happened just a few days after that fateful Patriot’s day; the city found a hero.
David Ortiz will forever be a legend in the city thanks to his on the field heroics for the Red Sox, but on April 20th, 2013, he transcended the sport of baseball. The man that is affectionately known as “Big Papi,” by Red Sox Nation has been beloved by the city since his arrival ahead of the 2003 season.
Boston’s newest slugger instantly gave himself to the community and was received with open arms thanks to his boisterous persona.
Again, his on the field efforts made him beyond a legend to those that follow the Red Sox, but when the city needed someone the most, he stepped up. Ahead of that day game on April 20th, Papi took the mic and sent a message not only to Boston but to the world. This would be the first Red Sox home game since the bombing, and the powerhouse DH wanted to make sure that his voice was heard loud and clear.
In what is now known as the “This is our city,” speech, Ortiz poured out his love and pride for the city of Boston and all of those that inhabit it. He would thank the officials that sought out the safety of the city while giving praise to all of the first responders that risked their lives. Then he belted out the line that will stay with everyone for the rest of time:
“This is our f’n city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong!”
Ortiz made it clear that the name on the front of the jersey on that day, Boston, was more important than anything. They weren’t playing for an organization, a manager, or even the owners; they were playing for the city. Each and every player on that field was there to bring some semblance of normalcy back to the people of Boston.
“Boston Strong,” would become the mantra of the team and city throughout the rest of the season. The emblem was emblazoned on every hat and jersey as far as the eye could see in Boston. It was more than just a saying used to calm the nerves, it was a way of life. When it’s spoken into the world, it’s said with an aura of pride and dignity.
In my mind, there’s no better person to lead that charge and Ortiz as he’s been a vocal leader of the Red Sox since joining the club. Whether it be during the championship years where things couldn’t be better or the dark years where losses piled up quickly, Big Papi has been the heart and soul of this organization since the day he first adorned the jersey.
On that day the Red Sox would go on to defeat the Kansas City Royals 4-3, improving their season record to 12-4. They would finish the season with a 97-65 record, having gone an impressive 85-61 after that speech. Boston would win the AL East by 5.5 games making their way to the postseason once again.
The Red Sox would defeat the Rays 3-1 in the ALDS, then the Detroit Tigers 4-2 in the ALCS. Finally, they would meet the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in a rematch of the 2004 Fall Classic. Boston again raised the Commissioner’s Trophy having vanquished the Cards 4-2 and winning three straight games to end the Series.
Just who was the World Series MVP that year? Well, none other than Big Papi himself. Much like how he put the city of Boston on his shoulders in April he did so with the team in October. Ortiz went off for a .688/.760/1.188/1.948 line that saw him belt two homers and knock in six RBI. It truly was one of the greatest October performances in the history of the game.
David Ortiz is not just a hero for what he did while in a Red Sox uniform but for what he did when the jersey was off. His work in the community in times and need as well as when things were good has earned him a lifetime of adoration from the fans. Whether you follow baseball or not, it’s hard to not know who Big Papi is, and it’s even harder to not love him.